Drawing with the Kids

If you’ve read many posts on this site, it’s probably apparent that I do a lot of drawing with my kids. They have desks set up right next to mine, and on the weekends, we’ll often all sit around and draw. They are quite adventurous with their art; creating pure imaginative scenes, drawing what I draw (such as the Bob Ross portrait), and even helping write a kids’ book about robots. Although they have their own desks, and even their own pencils, they seem to most enjoy using dad’s things. They especially love using my pencils and participating in any recording for my progression videos. This is cheesy, but I think the best way to describe my feelings about that is some combination of honored, humbled, and appreciative. I’m not sure if that accurate describes it, but I know it makes me happy that they want to participate in something that I enjoy now and also did when I was their age.

My drawing set up, including the camera arm above and drawing board underneath the papers and pencils (since the desk surface is textured). The kids’ desks are off to the right, but they sometimes like to join me here.

As I mentioned, the kids really love to get involved in the recording process whenever I film for an art progression video. They’ve definitely made cameos in other videos, like this lady, Bob Ross, and some others. For this most recent portrait, I decided it was definitely time for another of the kids. Although my family is by far my most common subject, it had actually been a while since my last one – since Mother’s Day! So, definitely time for another. This time, the kids really wanted to join in, perhaps since it was them on the page. They were center stage in this video, which gave me an idea for something. The kids also did their own videos, featuring their own creations, which I chopped up and added to this piece. My oldest daughter went with a mother cat and a bunch of kittens, while my youngest sketched a flower garden. You can check out that video towards the bottom of this post.

Anyhow, back to this drawing – this is one of the kids watching TV while lying on the bed. I thought it was interesting pose to attempt and would make a solid portrait, but it presented some challenges. The biggest difficulty was that the light from the television was the primary room lighting. It was a very blue photo, but as usual, I sort of punted on the challenge and tried to “normalize” the colors. I’ll discuss the process a bit more below. First, I’ll include the final version, discuss the process, then embed two videos (one is the spliced together “kids drawing” piece, the other is a full progression video).

So, what went right and what went wrong here? Well, the primary questions I always ask when I’m finished are simple ones: 1) Overall, do I like it? And 2) Does it look like the subject(s)? The answer is yes here to both! I do like the final result, which I think actually looks better in person (which definitely isn’t always the case). As for the second question, I also think this looks like the kids, so that’s always a big victory. If I can meet those two metrics on ever drawing, I’m a happy portrait-sketcher.

Getting back to what I mentioned earlier about the blue light from the television. As I said, that is a challenge that I purposefully skipped. It would have been a cool thing to try, and perhaps I do myself a disservice by not trying new things to hone my skillset. But it seemed very tricky and I didn’t want to mess this one up. Despite my cop-out, I actually still somehow ended up with a bit of a blue hue. I think it is partially due to all of the dark blues, slates, and cool grays I used. Because I burnish and blend the colors with such thick layers, I often end up with tons of pencil core (wax/lead…whatever they’re made of) debris all over the paper. It’s something that is occasionally an issue when I get that debris on finer facial details. One of my Princess Bride sketches had that problem for example.

So overall, this was a good one! And it was fun getting to make a video with the kids of their own artwork. Below, I’ve embedded the videos I referenced above from the YouTube channel. I’m still on the fence about whether to keep that rolling or not – the alternative would be going back to the old .gifs I used to make. But, for now I’m still keeping it going, since we are in a video-oriented world now with Tik-Tok, YouTube, Instagram, and all that. Here are the videos:

A compilation of the kids drawing with me during this portrait, then a bonus of their individual art videos.
The full length progression of this portrait, which includes the kids joining in.

I think for the next drawing, I’m going to finally finish one that I briefly started at least a month ago. Of course, I have definitely said that before…and I saw how that turned out. So, that will be the next one. Unless I get too distracted. Or unless I get inspired to work on something else. Which is always a possibility!

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